10. Conduct of Assessment


Formal unseen written examinations   

10.1      The procedures under which the University requires unseen written examinations to be conducted are set out in the University’s Assessment Regulations (Annex 3). Should any divergence from these procedures be requested, the chair of the relevant School Board of Examiners must be consulted. The chair may act on behalf of the board but must first consult the undergraduate or graduate Faculty Education Director.

10.2      The University's Assessment Regulations contain detailed provisions concerning the handling of allegations of plagiarism, cheating and other examinations offences. Anyone with responsibility for handling such allegations must be fully familiar with these regulations.

The examination periods

10.3      Summative examinations are set within the January and May/June assessment periods and ‘re-sit’ / supplementary examinations in the August/September period. Exceptions must be agreed as in 10.5.

10.4      The summative assessment of units must take place during or at the end of the teaching block in which the unit is run, except for agreed exceptions.

10.5      Where there is good academic reason to request an exemption from 10.3 or 10.4, the programme director must make a case to the relevant Faculty Education Director. If the Faculty Education Director approves the case, it must then be presented to the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education Quality and Standards) for final approval.

10.6      Examinations within the MBChB, BDS, BVSc (including Accelerated Graduate Entry) and other specified non-modular programmes should be arranged as outlined in 10.3 and 10.4 as far as is possible.

Students requesting to take summative examinations outside of the United Kingdom

Students registered for an award of the University of Bristol

10.7      All University of Bristol students taking first-sit or re-sit unseen written examinations that are taken under exam conditions are expected to take their scheduled examinations in venues arranged by the University of Bristol. In exceptional cases, however, approval may be sought for permission to take an examination at an approved institution outside the United Kingdom (UK).

10.8      There is no automatic entitlement to sit an examination outside the UK.  Permission to do so will only be given if:

(i)     It is permitted by programme and/or faculty requirements (e.g. 10.9);

(ii)    The student has provided sufficient cause or reason* to not sit the examination at the University of Bristol;

(iii)   The arrangements for examination at the approved institution conform to University regulations;

(iv)  There is not suitable alternative.

This judgement is at the discretion of the relevant Faculty Education Director.

* Holidays, working commitments or financial constraints at the time of the examination will not normallybe considered a sufficient cause or reason for taking the examination outside the UK. Authorisation to sit an examination outside the UK on medical grounds will not normally be granted as students should only be taking examinations when fit to do so. Students who have medical issues should seek advice from their School.

10.9      Any examination scheduled outside the UK must take place in an institution where the conditions for examination have been formally agreed by the University. The relevant Faculty will notify the University’s Examinations Office in such instances, which will liaise with the student’s home institution with regard to the arrangements for the examination such that it is convened in accordance with the regulations of the University of Bristol.

10.10      Any examination arranged outside of the UK must be scheduled to run concurrently or to overlap withsame examination at the University of Bristol.

10.11      The same procedures apply where the requirements of a distance learning programme necessitate students taking their written summative examinations outside the UK. Consideration should be given during the design stage of distance learning programmes as to whether alternative forms of assessment are more appropriate

Students whose award is not made by the University of Bristol

10.12      A student studying at the University of Bristol, but whose award is not being made by the University (i.e. on a ‘Study Abroad’ period), will be permitted the opportunity to undertake a first-attempt summative examination at their home institution, where the student is required to re-engage with their studies at the home institution at the same time that examinations are scheduled at Bristol (i.e. in the January examination period). This allowance is subject to:

(i)     It being permitted by programme requirements;

(ii)    The arrangements for examination conforming to University regulation, including that it is held concurrently with the examination held in Bristol or, where this is not possible, on the same day.

This judgement is at the discretion of the relevant Faculty Education Director.

10.13      In such cases, at the behest of the student, the International Office will inform the relevant School and Faculty in which the Study Abroad student is based at the start of each academic year.

10.14      The relevant Faculty will subsequently notify the University’s Examinations Office, which will liaise with the student’s home institution with regard to the arrangements for the examination such that it is convened in accordance with the regulations of the University of Bristol.

Timed assessments

10.15     Timed assessments are online assessments that need to be completed and submitted within a period of four days (five days for students with Alternative Exam Arrangements). They are distinct from exams, which have more tightly constrained timing. Students are given guidance as to the amount of time to spend completing the assessment and may choose when to complete the assessment within the given time period for submission. They are normally scheduled and undertaken within one of the University’s assessment periods.

10.16      An extension to the deadline for submission is not available and a late submission is not accepted. Students may not self-certify absence from a timed assessment but may present exceptional circumstances.

Coursework and similar forms of written summative assessment

Coursework is defined as any summative assessment based on essays, assignments, creative writing or other tasks that is completed outside timetabled classes in the students' own time.

10.17      Students should be provided with a clear timetable at the start of the unit (or year of study for a programme, if appropriate) as to when coursework will be set, when it should be submitted and when they will receive feedback on it. Students should be given a reasonable amount of time for planning, writing and reviewing their work before the submission date, relative to the learning on the unit and their overall workload for the programme. Within this, coursework should be set at the commencement of the unit, unless there is good academic reason otherwise.

10.18     Coursework or other forms of written summative assessment should be submitted no later than the date provided by the student’s home school in order for the student’s progression or award to be considered at the next relevant meeting of the exam board.

10.19      Academic misconduct associated with continuously assessed summative assignments should be dealt with in accordance with the Assessment Regulations.

10.20      The director of a unit that utilises coursework as an assessment method is responsible for ensuring that all those involved in the assessment process are aware of the assessments of the unit, and where the marking of coursework is undertaken by more than one person, procedures must be in place to ensure consistency in marking.

Online submission of coursework

Also see: guidance on the online submission and marking of coursework.

10.21      Where employed, the online submission of work should be consistently applied for all students undertaking the assessment and, ideally, to all the appropriate assessments within the unit.

10.22      It should be made clear to students (e.g. via Blackboard) that, for each unit, whether any assessment can or must be submitted online and if the work is to be checked using text, code or other matching software.

10.23      Students should be given clear instructions (e.g. via Blackboard) on the submission process, for each unit, including that:

  1. Submitted files must be in the specified file format(s) (e.g. Word, pdf).
  2. Submitted files must comply with instructions, including required file naming and coversheet information (if used).
  3. The deadline relates to the complete and successful submission of the coursework and students must ensure that they begin the submission process in good time before the deadline.
  4. Checking the successful submission of the work is the responsibility of the student. Staff should only be contacted if the student has identified or experienced a problem (e.g. submitted the wrong file).

10.24     If a student encounters a problem preventing them from submitting their work that is not caused by a University system failure, they must notify their School immediately. Evidence of this technical failure may be required by the School.  The act of notification in itself does not annul or extend any deadline.

10.25  Where schools mandate the use of Turnitin for submissions for a dissertation, project or industry placement report that forms a significant part of the summative assessment for a programme, a student or appropriate member of staff (e.g. dissertation supervisor) may initiate a request on the appropriate form for an exemption from the Turnitin requirement if there are contractual, security or safety obligations on the University to safeguard sensitive material from third parties. The member of staff is responsible for submitting a request to the relevant Faculty Education Director (or nominee). Where the student initiates the request, the relevant member of staff must provide a recommendation on the form. The Faculty Education Director (or nominee) will make a decision on the request and the faculty will communicate the outcome to the student, to the staff member and to the school. If the request is approved, the relevant member of staff will undertake a manual check on the dissertation for academic integrity and plagiarism and will inform the school when the check has been completed.

10.26      Online assessment must be conducted under the same processes specified by the Code as for other forms of assessment

Oral examinations of individual students   

10.27      Two examiners should be present during all oral examinations. If this is not possible then a procedure for recording the event must be in place.

10.28      Oral examinations should only be used when it tests the intended learning outcome of the unit e.g. practical or performance skills. Normally this would not include assessment of simple factual knowledge recall.

10.29      It is the responsibility of the Programme Director in conjunction with the Unit Directors involved to demonstrate that the oral examination is reliable, fair and appropriate and adds value to the assessment portfolio.

10.30      The external examiner must have adequate access to the purpose, objectives and assessment criteria.

10.31      If an oral examination is part of the assessment of a unit, it must apply to every student taking that unit.

10.32      An oral examination is not permitted as a means of moderating a student’s examination result or degree classification.

Pass/fail assessments

10.33          A unit may contain summative assessments with both pass/fail and graded marking schemes, in which case the pass/fail assessment will be deemed to be ‘must-pass’ for the award of credit for the unit. A mark for the unit will be generated on the basis of the graded assessments.

10.34          If the assessment within a unit is solely marked on the pass/fail marking scheme, the unit is deemed to be ‘must-pass’ (i.e. the student must ‘pass’ every assessment to be awarded the credit for the unit). As such units do not generate a mark, the unit will not contribute to the year or programme mark. Units with assessments that are solely pass/fail are not permitted in the final year of a modular undergraduate programme.

10.35          Programmes should be mindful of the cumulative impact of units that are solely marked on the pass/fail marking scheme (i.e. where a unit mark is not generated) in a year of study/taught component given their impact on the weighting of other units for calculating the year / taught component mark and programme mark for both progression and classification purposes.

10.36          Summative assessments that are pass/fail should have more than one opportunity for students to pass the assessment in-unit.

Other activities for the award of credit in a unit

10.37          Any activities that are required to be undertaken or completed for the award of credit in a unit must be set out in the unit specification. Such activities are summative but may also have a formative purpose.

10.38          Such activities should always explicitly link to the unit’s intended learning outcomes and must be undertaken or completed for credit to be awarded in the unit, except where an exam board waives this requirement to account for the impact of Exceptional Circumstances where the relevant intended learning outcomes are demonstrated elsewhere in the programme.

10.39          Such activities may constitute:

*In this context, ‘reasonably attempted’ means that the student has undertaken the activity and made a reasonable attempt to engage with its purpose in the academic judgement of the relevant Unit Director, or nominee.

10.40          Where a student is required to attend specified teaching event/s to demonstrate engagement with the learning for the award of credit in a unit, schools should specify the arrangements for students to demonstrate this criterion where they have not done by the summer exam board.

10.41          Students are required to undertake or complete the activity by the date set by the school, normally within the unit. Where the student has missed or not completed the activity by this date, the student will be given the opportunity to undertake or complete the activity by a specified date before the relevant exam board at which their progression or award is due to be considered.

10.42      A student who does not satisfactorily undertake or complete the activity by the specified date before the relevant exam board at which their progression or award is considered, will be deemed to have failed the unit. The exam board will permit a reassessment opportunity to undertake and complete the activity by a specified date set by the school, either:

10.43      The capping of the unit mark does not apply to the reassessment of activities for the award of credit, on the basis that the unit mark cannot be improved by the reassessment opportunity.